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Election / By-election news round-up

LIBERAL Democrat candidate Beatrice Wishart says she is “shocked” to learn that some people in Shetland have been waiting over 600 days for mental health treatment.

Beatice Wishart.

She was responding to a freedom of information request submitted to NHS Shetland by the Scottish Liberal Democrats on long waiting times for adult psychological therapy.

As of 31 March this year, two people had been waiting 21-22 months for therapy following a referral, with over 50 adults waiting more than a year. The Scottish Government target is 18 weeks.

Wishart said the longest waiting times in Shetland are a “damning indictment of the SNP’s handling of our health system”.

“Staff are working around the clock but they are getting nowhere near the support and resources they need to be able to treat people when they need it,” she said.

“Both staff and patients have every right to demand better of the Scottish Government. Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to press for much more investment in mental health, specialist beds for young people north of Dundee and new practitioners in every single GP surgery and A&E department.

“This will help people be treated on time, ending the scandal of 22 month waits for treatment.”

SNP candidate Tom Wills has challenged the UK Government over delivery charges to rural and remote areas like Shetland.

SNP candidate Tom Wills.

He has called on UK consumer affairs minister Kelly Tolhurst to take “serious action” on the long-standing issue.

Writing to the minister, Wills said: “There have been previous attempts to tackle rip-off surcharges. In 2014, Scottish ministers pushed the UK government to ensure that online retailers could not discriminate against consumers based on their location. But five years on, Shetlanders are still unfairly punished by these companies.

“Islanders are fed up with some retailers delivering free of charge or at a low cost to other parts of the UK, while they impose eye-watering surcharges to Shetland.”

Johan Adamson.

LABOUR’s Johan Adamson has backed the party’s Jeremy Corbyn becoming a caretaker prime minster to prevent a no deal Brexit in the event of a no confidence vote on Boris Johnson.

She also called on Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson to rethink her rejection of the idea.

“It is so disappointing that Jo Swinson has created a problem here. She needs to forget her aversion to Corbyn and work with him to avoid the chaos of a no deal,” Adamson said.

“The Lib Dems were flexible enough to work with the Tories in government between 2010 and 2015, they now need to show some flexibility in helping Corbyn and others to stop this disastrous no deal Brexit.”

SCOTTISH Greens’ Debra Nicolson believes the Mariner field east of Shetland – which has started producing oil – should be the “beginning of the end” for the industry.

Debra Nicolson.

More than 300 million barrels of crude oil are expected to be recovered from the field, which is operated by Equinor.

Nicolson, however, said that the winding down of fossil fuels like oil needs to start now, adding that the focus should be on zero-carbon industries.

“We are in a climate emergency, yet we are seeing the opening of the largest offshore development in the UK for a decade,” she said.

“Rather the start of new large-scale expansion, this field should be the beginning of the end as we start to wind down fossil fuels.

“As well as making a huge contribution to the ongoing climate breakdown, oil is increasingly a scarce resource. The oil and gas industry has been vital for jobs in Shetland, but we owe it to the workforce to give them a future in alternative zero-carbon industries by starting that transition now.”

Nicolson, meanwhile, has expressed her disappointment that the junior Lerwick Up Helly Aa is allowing boys from around Shetland to take part in squads while at the same time still prohibiting girls.

She said she was “saddened” by that the committee decided to let boys across the isles get involved rather than “change the rules to let girls in who work and study alongside them”.

FOUR of the ten Shetland by-election candidates have spoken out in favour of Scottish independence.

Wills, Nicolson and independents Ian Scott and Michael Stout showed support for Scotland going it alone when quizzed by BBC Radio Shetland.

Johan Adamson, Beatrice Wishart, the Conservatives’ Brydon Goodlad, UKIP’s Stuart Martin and independent candidate Peter Tait were all against the idea.

Independent candidate Ryan Thomson, however, said the issue was for the people of Shetland to decide on rather than himself.

Scotland – and Shetland – voted ‘no’ in the independence vote in 2014, but there are hopes from the SNP to hold another referendum in the coming years.

There are ten candidates contesting the Shetland by-election on 29 August.

They are in alphabetical order: Johan Adamson (Scottish Labour), Brydon Goodlad (Scottish Conservatives), Stuart Martin (UKIP), Debra Nicolson (Scottish Greens), Ian Scott (independent), Michael Stout (independent), Peter Tait (independent), Ryan Thomson (independent), Tom Wills (SNP) and Beatrice Wishart (Scottish Liberal Democrats).

Read more about all ten candidates at our special Shetland by-election page at: https://www.shetnews.co.uk/category/features/election-2019/